[MLS PREVIEW: Week 2]Ten years after entering MLS at the same time, Clint DempseyandMichael Bradley meet up again Saturday afternoon the poster boys for MLS 2014, a league that is growing and spending money, big money on the likes of Dempsey and Bradley to lure them back from overseas.But back then, they were just two prospects overshadowed in a draft by the attention on MLS's poster boy of the day, one Freddy Adu.
Bradley was just 16, Bob Bradley's kid, and he wasn't taken by the MetroStars until the fourth round with the 36th pick.
Dempsey had begun to get some attention when scouts went to see his former Palladin teammate Ricardo Clark the year before and he made the 1993 U.S. U-20 World Cup team that reached the quarterfinals in the United Arab Emirates. But playing behind the likes of Eddie Johnson and Adu up front, Dempsey was only taken with the eighth pick in the 2004 SuperDraft by New England.(Of the players taken ahead of him, only Chad Marshall, now Dempsey's teammate with the Sounders, and San Jose's Clarence Goodson, are still in MLS.)
Bradley and Dempsey still reminisce about meeting up for the first time at the 2004 MLS combine.
"We have a really good relationship on and off the field," Bradley said this week. "I think everybody is able to see how important he is not only for the Seattle Sounders, but the national team. I think whether he's been in Europe or in MLS or with the national team, he's shown what kind of player he is and how important he is for everybody."
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Dempsey didn't score in Seattle's opening-day win, yet looked sharp and involved in the Sounders' attack as they scored late to beat Sporting Kansas City, 1-0, on a goal off a rebound from his shot.
This will be Bradley's first game with Toronto FC as it had a bye in Week 1. Bradley and Jermain Defoeare expected to play in the nationally televised game (live on NBCSN at 4:30 p.m. ET), but Brazilian Gilberto, the third offseason Designated Player signing, remains sidelined with a hip flexor.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:
"When Clint made the Furman Hall of Fame, he couldn’t make the ceremony, because he was playing for Fulham that day. So his parents came and his dad made the speech, and I told his parents we’d check them into the Hyatt downtown and take them to dinner. They told me they’d never stayed in a hotel in the three years they drove up from Texas to South Carolina to watch Clint play. They couldn’t afford to, and they just camped every time. So when Clint won the U.S. Honda Player of the Year, what did he do? He bought his dad a truck. That’s the kind of kid he is, and that’s why every time he’s on the field he has a point to prove all the time. You’re just not supposed to make it from there."
-- Furman coach Doug Allison on former Palladin Clint Dempsey, whom he recruited out of Nacogdoches, Texas. (MLSSoccer.com)
NEW-LOOK RAPIDS. Expect to see the Colorado Rapids with a new look in the back and in midfield in their 2014 debut under new coach Pablo Mastroeni Saturday at New York. In preseason, Mastroeni moved Marvell Wynne from right back to center back and installed Spanish signing Jose Mari and veteran Nick LaBrocca as their tandem holding midfielders.
CCL UPDATE.Of the three MLS teams with second legs of the Concacaf Champions League scheduled for next week, only San Jose and Sporting Kansas City will play this weekend. The Quakes switched off weeks to be rested for Tuesday's 1-1 tie with Toluca and instead open MLS play Saturday against Real Salt Lake. Sporting KC plays its home opener Saturday against FC Dallas, having decided not to rest before or after their CCL quarterfinal matches. The LA Galaxy, which travel to Tijuana for the second leg Tuesday, pushed back its match slated for this weekend.
BACK TO SCENE OF CRIME.Saturday's Houston-Montreal game marks the Impact's first trip to BBVA Compass Stadium since its meltdown in its MLS playoff debut, a 3-0 loss to the Dynamo that ended with three players being ejected. None will be available on Saturday night. Marco Di Vaio and Andres Romero are still serving suspensions. Nelson Rivas has served his one-game suspension but he is back in Colombia recuperating from a preseason injury.
PRO ASSIGNMENTS.As of early Thursday evening, PRO hadposted no MLS refereeing assignments for Week 2.
WEEK 2: Schedule
Saturday, March 15
4 pm ET
Philadelphia vs. New England, MLS LIVE
New York vs. Colorado, MLS LIVE
4:30 pm ET
Seattle vs. Toronto FC, NBCSN
8:30 pm ET
Sporting KC vs. FC Dallas, MLS LIVE
Houston vs. Montreal, MLS LIVE
10:30 pm ET
San Jose vs. Real Salt Lake, MLS LIVE
Sunday, March 16
3 pm ET
Portland vs. Chicago, UniMas
7 pm ET
Chivas USA vs. Vancouver, MLS LIVE
PTS TEAM W-L-T GF/GA
3 Houston 1-0-0 4/0
3 Columbus 1-0-0 3/0
1 Philadelphia 0-0-1 1/1
0 Chicago 0-1-0 2/3
0 Montreal 0-1-0 2/3
0 Sporting KC 0-0-1 0/1
0 New York 0-1-0 1/4
0 D.C. United 0-1-0 0/3
0 New England 0-1-0 0/4
0 Toronto FC 0-0-0 0/0
PTS TEAM W-L-T GF/GA
3 Vancouver 1-0-0 4/1
3 Chivas USA 1-0-0 3/2
3 FC Dallas 1-0-0 3/2
3 Seattle 1-0-0 1/0
3 Real Salt Lake 1-0-0 1/0
1 Portland 0-0-1 1/1
0 LA Galaxy 0-1-0 0/1
0 Colorado 0-0-0 0/0
0 San Jose 0-0-0 0/0
MLS: Leading Scorers
G PLAYER, TEAM
2 Will Bruin, Houston
2 Sebastian Fernandez, Vancouver
2 Federico Higuain, Columbus